Security Tips for the New Year for the non-Security Geek

Welcome to 2014 everyone.  This year is going to be better than the last one, right?!  Well, to set you up for success, I suggest you do the things listed below.  Skip to the List.  Most folks, unless you’ve already been a victim of identity theft, have a “probably won’t happen to me” mentality when it comes to security and privacy threats.  Have you ever said:

  • “I don’t have anything to hide.”
  • “Why would hackers target me?  I have no money.”
  • “There’s no way to stop hackers now-a-days, so why try.  I probably won’t be attacked.”

Those rationalizations are all rooted in truth, and if I wasn’t in the security business, I would probably fall right in line with you.  However, I am in the security industry, and I see it all.  I read nearly all the published breach reports.  I have access to tons of unpublished breach information, and I’ve been personally involved in cleaning up several of the high profile breaches this year.

So you would expect me to advise people and companies to SECURE IT ALL!  Well, I think there’s a lot of truth to the third bullet above.  Between government agencies like the NSA & China, organized crime syndication, and that bored teenager down the street, there’s not much you can do to be 100% secure.  It’s impossible to SECURE IT ALL!

What can be done?  I call it “Good Enough Security”.  Follow these steps to figure out what you need to do.  This is the same process I take companies through, and it works just as well on a personal level.

  1. Think about what data you have that could be valuable to hackers, beyond your cash and credit. Your computer can be used to mine Bitcoins, attack websites, and participate in fraud.  Your social networking accounts can be used in fraud, and those passwords are often very similar to the ones used for banking.
  2. Expand the definition of hackers to include ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, teenage kids (yours or otherwise), former and current co-workers, and social networking “friends”. There are governments and foreign elite hackers, but you are also just as likely to be attacked from someone you know.  (Some attacks can be stupid easy.)
  3. Think about how you are vulnerable.  Do you reuse the same password with a number at the end?  Do you use public internet computers or shared wi-fi hotspots?  Do you have a smart phone with no extra security?  Do you have teenagers?

The security buzzwords for the above list are 1) know your assets 2) know the threat and 3) identify vulnerabilities.  It is the core of what we like to call a risk analysis.

Okay, but what about you?  The individual with a laptop, iPhone and iPad, a Facebook account, credit cards and a bank account.  What are some simple ways of setting yourself up for success in the New Year?

  • Change your passwords.  All of them.  Today.  And then,
  • Use Passphrases. There is a lot of research behind it.  “Xavieriscoolerin2014!” is a much better password than “X@v1er2014”.  You can also use the website names in your passphrase, e.g. “IjoinedFacebookin2009.”
  • Save your passwords, but not in the browser.  I would suggest a notebook, if you are low tech.  If you want a good tool, try LastPass.  It can sync password between various devices (including mobile devices), and is much more secure than Chrome or Firefox.
  • Don’t use the same password on different sites.  When a website gets hacked (like Adobe, Facebook, GMail, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), those passwords gets added to a big dictionary that are used in future attacks.  There will be more attacks of this nature in 2014, so set yourself up for success now.
  • Add a passcode to your phone.  Of all the security features that allows you to protect your phone, this is the best option.  As long as it’s not a super simple code (1234, 2580, or 4 of the same number), you can pick something easy to type in.
  • Get new credit and debit card numbers.  Call your bank and credit card providers and ask for new digits.  Tell them that this is due to the Target breach and you would like to cancel your current credit card number.  This is a good practice to do about once every year or two.
  • Secure your Android device.  Android has an open platform that fosters innovation, but also allows for being tricked into installing malware.  I suggest Zoner Antivirus.
  • Get a better antivirus.  Do you have the same antivirus that was packaged with your machine?  Go to AV Comparatives to see the best, and worst.  If you are a bit more technical, use the Bit9 Trust Assessment tool to get the best idea of what’s installed on your system.

If you have any other simple security tips, send them my way.  Here’s to having a safe 2014!

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Cyberespionage Tackle Box: FinFisher Spyware Casts Wide Net

FinFisher’s Global Proliferation: Updated Map
Copyright, The Citizen Lab 2013

EDIT: New information about FinFisher was released by F-Secure on August 30, 2013.

Originally posted on the Bit9 Corporate Blog.

As I reviewed recent headlines, I took note of a company out of the U.K., Gamma International, that makes purpose-built spying tools. Their software offering is called FinFisher (aka FinSpy). The buzz phrase they use is “lawful intercept,” which means that its use should be bound by laws that allow spying in certain circumstances. Personally, I file it under “greyware,” considering it could be used legally or illegally to remotely control or embed cyberespionage tools within benign looking software. So how do organizations secure themselves against these kinds of tools?

Last year Morgan Marquis-Boire, a security researcher at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and Bill Marczak, a computer science doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, found emails containing surveillance tools traced back to Gamma International. More recently, those researchers found the command-and-control server for FinFisher running in 36 countries. According to Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure, Gamma International even tried to sell FinFisher to the Egyptian Government under former President Mubarak.

As the New York Times reported in March:

Martin J. Muench, a Gamma Group managing director, has said his company does not disclose its customers but that Gamma Group sold its technology to governments only to monitor criminals. He said that it was most frequently used “against pedophiles, terrorists, organized crime, kidnapping and human trafficking.”

But evidence suggests the software is being sold to governments where the potential for abuse is high. “If you look at the list of countries that Gamma is selling to, many do not have a robust rule of law,” Mr. Marquis-Boire said. “Rather than catching kidnappers and drug dealers, it looks more likely that it is being used for politically motivated surveillance.”

FinSpy vs. Mozilla Firefox.

The Citizen Lab released research on the topic a few days ago titled “For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying.” The data in this report is shocking in many ways, including a mobile version of FinSpy that follows the same path as its desktop equivalent.

They also have a sample package that realistically masquerades as Mozilla’s Firefox. They copied so many details that Mozilla sent Gamma International a cease-and-desist letter, according to Wired. As you see in the screenshot below, the properties of the executable are identical. How would one ever know the difference? You could rely on virus scanners, but without a sample of the malicious code they won’t be able to detect or stop it.

The tried-and-true security tools that most of us depend on are reactive. You have to wait on security researchers to tear apart samples that they find in the wild to give you reactive protection. It’s the same old cat-and-mouse game that leaves you open to attack.

Fortunately, there is a way to end the game. The Bit9 Trust-based Security Platform takes a different approach by blocking the execution of untrusted files across endpoints and servers. Let’s look through the Citizen Lab’s research paper and see how Bit9 would stop these threats.

  • In the messages sent to Bahrain dissidents, used the “right-to-left override” attack. From the research paper: “The RLO character (U+202e in unicode) controls the positioning of characters in text containing characters flowing from right to left, such as Arabic or Hebrew. The malware appears on a victim’s desktop as ‘exe.Rajab1.jpg’ (for example), along with the default Windows icon for a picture file without thumbnail. But, when the UTF-8 based filename is displayed in ANSI, the name is displayed as ‘gpj.1bajaR.exe.’ Believing that they are opening a harmless ‘.jpg,’ victims are instead tricked into running an executable ‘.exe’ file.”
    • If Bit9 were installed and running in high-enforcement mode, the unknown or untrusted executable would not have executed. Even if you were running Bit9 in block-and-ask mode, the user would be alerted that a program was trying to run something other than a .jpg.
  • In emails sent to the Moroccan citizen media and journalism project Mamfakinch, the payload was in a malicious java file, “adobe.jar.” This file then facilitated the installation of a multi-platform (OSX and Windows) backdoor. On Windows, it writes a number of files, including ZsROY7X.-MP. This file appears to provide the main backdoor functionality. It adds a registry key to ensure the Trojan stays persistent and runs via rundll32.
    • Bit9 has the ability to track and block Java files as it does other executables, but it isn’t turned on by default. So if you had that Java option enabled, Bit9 would keep “adobe.jar” from ever executing. Let’s say you don’t have Java tracking enabled. In that case, “adobe.jar” would execute, writing out the files to the endpoint. Bit9 examines each file for its contents, finding the file “ZsROY7X.-MP” to be executable as DLL. When rundll32.exe is called to load it that execution will be blocked. The Trojan will never be able to execute with Bit9 installed.
  • In an email sent to Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent UAE blogger who was imprisoned, the payload is a malicious document that looks like a Microsoft Word file, but is an RTF file that exploits a stack-based buffer overflow in the RTF format and downloads additional payloads. Using a Windows API, it downloads a second file, which is also a downloader. Then the third stage is where the backdoor is downloaded, “verimportant.doc3.” The file then writes out several files, including “V46lMhsH.shv,” which is run via “rundll32.exe.”
    • This use case has a different point of injection, but the same outcome. In this case, either the second downloader or the backdoor itself would be blocked by Bit9. Since the backdoor wouldn’t execute, cleanup would be relatively easy since it wasn’t able to inject itself into other software.
  • In the use case of the modified version of Firefox, the user would be tricked into installing the wrong version by DNS poisoning, link-jacking, cross-site scripting, clever emails, or other means. The user would then install what looks to be a normally functioning version of Firefox. Infecting an endpoint in this manner tricks the users into accepting changes to his or her system. They know they are installing software, so they are more likely to click “yes” to any security warnings.
    • Companies using Bit9 build a trust-based security approach that ensures any software delivered and executed on an endpoint has been approved in some trusted fashion. Whatever model is deployed, it can prevent “trick the end user” attacks because the malicious version of Firefox is not signed by Mozilla. It would not be able to pass the rigors of a trust-based approach and would not be allowed to execute on the endpoint.

Malware comes in various shapes and sizes, with some written by criminals and others written by private companies. Keeping up with these advanced threats requires a new approach to security. Bit9 ensures that only trusted software can run, as opposed to relying on deep analysis of already-known threats that can take time and money to defend against while still leaving you unsecure. A trust-based approach is the most secure method to ensure your endpoints and servers are not being spied on by foreign governments using products such as FinFisher and FinSpy.

Highlights from the IBM X-Force 2012 Trend and Risk Report

Even though I am no longer an IBMer, this is still a great report to review trends.  The X-Force Blog has posted their highlights, with a link at the bottom to get the full report.  I’ve read through the report and here’s some bits I find interesting.

  • The distribution and installation of malware on end-user systems has been greatly enabled by the use of Web browser exploit kits built specifically for this purpose. Exploit kits first began to appear in 2006 and are provided or sold by their authors to attackers that want to install malware on a large number of systems. They continue to be popular because they provide attackers a turnkey solution for installing malware on end-user systems. Java vulnerabilities have become a key target for exploit kits as attackers take advantage of three key elements: reliable exploitation, unsandboxed code execution, and cross-platform availability across multiple operating systems. Java exploits have become key targets in 2012 and IBM X-Force predicts this attack activity to continue into 2013.
  • The 2012 bank DDoS attacks appear to be coming in part not from infected PCs, but from compromised web servers that reside in high bandwidth data centers. By using security vulnerabilities in CMS systems and other popular web frameworks, the attackers were able to create a botnet of web servers that have a much longer connected uptime, as well as having more bandwidth in general, than home PCs. Because of Section I—Threats > Rising tide of security incidents > ABC’s and DDoS’s this, they were able to use fewer bots to more effectively generate larger amounts of traffic.
  • In addition to new toolkits and botnets of infected web servers, old reliable methods such as amplification attacks are being effectively used to generate high traffic. While amplification attacks such as an Internet Control Message Protocal based (ICMP) “Smurf Attack” have been used for a decade or more, attackers continue to use the same underlying principles to generate much more traffic today. In particular, DNS Amplification has been successful due to the many open or misconfigured DNS resolver servers on the Internet.
  • Malicious code activity overall continues to grow, helped along by the combined efforts of casual attackers, insider threats, cybercrime and Advanced Persistent Threats. Figure 7 demonstrates the “arms race” that exists in
    computer security today, with the number of techniques to compromise systems constantly growing, being countered, and growing again.

Hackers, too Close to Home

I live in the far outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia.  It’s rural/suburban, with lots of horse farms and country clubs.  You never expect to have bad things happen near you home, myself included.  However, we do have some local drama that has bled in to my domain of information security.  It all started with this:

Acworth Teen Accused of Posting Nude Photos to Porn Sites

Authorities are investigating an Acworth teen who allegedly posted naked photos of at least eight children on pornographic websites, according to a Cobb County criminal warrant.

Interesting.  At this point I find it odd, but not too interesting.  Some kids getting in trouble.  Stupid trouble, but it sounds like this guy is not a pedophile.  Then more information came out.

Police Seek More Victims in Acworth Teen’s Alleged Child Porn Scheme

The Acworth teen who allegedly posted naked photos of at least eight children on pornographic websites created a company to gain the trust of the juveniles.

Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce said today that authorities believe Harrison High School senior Michael William Cook operated under the company name Maxi Focus Photography between Nov. 1, 2012, and Jan. 1, 2013, the time frame that he allegedly posted to pornographic websites “naked” or “erotic” photos of people that he obtained through fraudulent means.

Okay, now that steps it up a notch.  If true, this guy even got himself a fake business to entice girls.  So he may be more of a predator than I first thought.  At this point, it’s a wild story, but still a local quirky story.  It just happens to be walking distance from my home.  I was reading my security blogs this morning and came across this:

17-year-old arrested for hacking into phones, stealing and distributing explicit images of children

A US teenager has been charged with distributing child pornography he allegedly hacked out of minors’ cellphones with a bogus mobile text ad that installed phone-controlling malware.

According to 9News.com, Sgt. Pierce claimed that Cook sent text messages to victims from a company called “Maxi Focus Photography”.

When victims clicked on a link in the text message, it installed malware that essentially gave Cook access to all information stored on the phones.

That includes access to victims’ accounts on social network sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as sexually explicit photos stored on the phones.

Cook allegedly downloaded offensive pictures and sent them to pornographic websites, Pierce said.

Now things are getting very interesting.  This is more than just using a fake photography “studio” to convince girls to get naked.  This was a lot more sneaky, if true.  I’ve done security forensics before and they almost always are child porn cases.  For me, I was always helping prove that someone knowingly downloaded child porn, and usually disproving the “It must have been a Virus” defense.

This is different.  If true, my neighbor was hacking into phones and stealing nude photos.  In my line of work, we talk about the various type of threats we have and what are their motivations.  Now we can add perverted 17 year old boys trying to find naked pictures of teenagers.  What if can across your banking info?  Think he’d buy himself a couple of video games?

I can think of several lessons here:

  • Everything on a computer is discoverable.  If you have a naked photo of yourself, it could get posted somewhere.  Those files seem to live forever.
  • This is even more true on phones.  Did you know that many photos are automatically “backed up” onto servers (especially on non-smartphones)?  Things like IM and texting are unsecure and can be read by others?
  • Teach your children about security.  Do you tell your children about dark alleys at night?  Then tell them how to avoid getting attacked on the internet.  Here’s a few good links:
  • Install Anti-Malware on your Smartphone and Tablets. Here are two of my favorite (and they’re free!):

I’ll keep monitoring the situation and see how things evolve.  For this kids sake, I hope it’s not true.  We’ll see how the investigation goes.

Wipe the Drive! or use Bit9

I just read a great article by Mark Baggett (@MarkBaggett) on the ISC Diary called Wipe the drive! Stealthy Malware Persistence Mechanism – Part 1 and Wipe the drive! Stealthy Malware Persistence – Part 2.  This was from his presentation at Shmoocom 2013.  He shows 4 different methods how malware can stick around even after it’s been “cleaned” by anti-malware products.  I completely agree with his advice: always “Wipe the Drive”.  It’s the only sure fire way to clean the system, but what if you can’t for some reason?  Maybe it’s a traveling employee or an executive at a conference.  Wiping and re-imaging is a costly procedure in most enterprises.

What if you had Bit9 installed?  How would these 4 situations play out?  Let’s go through them.  Bit 9 can be run in three protection modes: Monitor-only with Advanced Treat Indicators (ATIs), Block & Ask, and Block.  If you are running endpoints in Monitor-only mode with ATIs, you would get an alert on your Bit9 console for these actions.   This alert could be acted upon within Bit9 or from your SIEM.  For the other two modes, I’ll explain how each of these would be blocked, since that’s how most of our customers use Bit9.

TECHNIQUE  #1  – File Associations Hijacking

What happens when you click on a .TXT file?   The operating system checks the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT hive for the associated extension to see what program it should launch.  …

What if the attacker or his malware changes this association?   Instead of launching notepad it tells the OS to launch NOTPAD.EXE.     NOTPAD.EXE is wrapper around the real NOTEPAD.EXE but it also contains a malicious payload.

This is pretty straightforward.  NOTPAD.EXE would be blocked because it isn’t trusted.  No matter how you tricked the user into running it, Bit9 is protecting you.  When you get the block alert, it’s time to wipe the drive, but only when get around to it… after all, you are protected by Bit9.

TECHNIQUE #2   BITS BACKDOOR

BITS is the Background Intelligent Transfer System.  This service is used by your operating system to download patches from Microsoft or your local WSUS server.   But this service can also be used to schedule the download of an attacker’s malware to reinfect your system.   Once the attacker or his malware are on on your machine he execute BITSADMIN to schedule the download of http://attackersite.com/malware.exe.   He schedules the job to only retry the URL once a day and automatically execute the program after it is successfully downloaded.  The attacker doesn’t put anything at that URL today.   Instead, he simply waits for you to finish your incident handling process and look the other way.   You can scan the machine with 100 different virus scanners.   Today there is no file on your system to detect.  You can do memory forensics all day.   Sorry, there is nothing running today.    Today it is just a simple configuration change to the OS.    Then when he is ready he places malware.exe on his site.   Your machine dutifully downloads the new malware and executes it.

Again, this is a very easy use case.  malware.exe wouldn’t be allowed to run.  When you get the block alert, it’s time to wipe the drive, but only when get around to it.  Bit9’s got you covered until then.

TECHNIQUE  #3  – Program.exe

When Jake and I were preparing for the Shmoocon talk that we gave on this subject, I suggested we include this technique in our presentation.    Jake disagreed because this thing has been around since the year 2000 and I quickly relented and agreed with him.  At the time we both thought that this technique is pretty lame and we shouldn’t have to worry about a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD vulnerability.   Instead I decided to do a post on the ISC to talk about the technique and see what response we got.    The response for you, our awesome supporters, was incredible.    ISC readers documented several dozen of these attacks in critical systems common to most corporate desktop images.    You made Jake a believer (he had a vulnerable OEM application you found on his laptop). The response was such that I am now convinced that an attacker can use this technique and have a great deal of confidence that his malware will be launched.   As a matter of fact, it will probably be launched by something that has system permissions.    I won’t repeat the full details of the technique here since I already covered it on the ISC.   You can check out this article if you missed it:

http://isc.sans.edu/diary/Help+eliminate+unquoted+path+vulnerabilities/14464

This is the scenario. Malware or an attacker is on your machine.   He has administrative or Power User access.   The attacker drops a file called “program.exe” on the root of your C drive.    “program.exe” is a small application that reads the command line parameters that were used to call it.  It launches the real program you had intended to call and then executes its malicious payload.   Simple but effective.

This one is interesting.  When you install the Bit9 agent, it locally approves all files on the system.  Then you setup a chain of trust.  If you have program.exe on old machines or existing gold images, Bit9 will trust it.

I would advise following the link above and understanding this issue.  It’s worth it to review gold images a bit closer when putting them in your trust based architecture in Bit9.  When doing this review, it’s a great use case for using cloud based reputation using Bit9’s Software Reputation Service (SRS).  If you have any questionable files on your image, run them through SRS.  Find out what the world thinks about them.  Another bit of advice for vetting gold images: review unsigned code!  You can even detonate files in a FireEye MAS, if you have one.

If you do find any malware like this program.exe, globally ban it in Bit9 (and delete it from your gold image)!  This will instantly protect all existing computers running the Bit9 agent.  Global Bans even work on Bit9 agents running in Monitor-only mode.  No need to wipe every drive immediately when you are protected with Bit9.

Technique #4 –  Service Failure Recovery Startups

You can configure Windows services with an automatic recovery action.  The defined action will be taken when the service crashes unexpectedly.    You can see these on the recovery tab for a service using services.msc.   Here you see this service first tries to restart the service, then it will …. ummm… whats that??  ..  RUN A PROGRAM.   Hmm.

This use case is also straightforward.  The malware has tricked the user, even tricked the system, but it hasn’t been tricked by Bit9.  Blocked, again.

I hope this helps shine the light on the amazing power of software whitelisting.  It changes the game in end-point protection.  You don’t have to go running after every trick in the book that may trick a user. You only have vet the software you trust, and you don’t have to wipe the drive immediately when an infection occurs.  Bit9 gives you the freedom to have endpoint protected while you wipe the drive at your convenience.

Gartner’s take on Endpoint Security

Since moving from network security to endpoint security, I’ve been soaking as much wisdom on various approaches, priorities, and opinions out there.  I came across this Gartner study titled “Predicts 2013: Endpoint Security Becomes Even More Important for Infrastructure Protection”.  It seems to hit home with many of the viewpoints I am hearing from my customers.  The Bit9 web folks have posted a copy on the Bit9 website, but here’s the gist:

Key Findings

  • Most endpoint security tools are designed to allow any application to run, unless it is known to be malicious. Restricting applications that are allowed to execute to a known set of preapproved applications is gaining acceptance as a more-effective security measure for dealing with rapidly morphing malware and advanced persistent threats.
  • Malware authors typically attack the easiest and most prevalent targets. Mobile devices offer a range of possibilities along these two scales.
  • As computer processing is dispersed into operational technology (OT) systems, data sources and access points expand exponentially. Some of these objects will require security due to the sensitivity of the processing they perform and the data they provide, particularly for OT-centric enterprises.
  • Most organizations are removing URL blocks and permitting most employees to access external social media from corporate-owned and managed endpoints and networks.

Recommendations

  • Consider application control a key requirement of endpoint protection systems. Favor vendors that have mature workflow processes for dealing with change and have large installed bases of users from which to draw samples.
  • Focus investments in platforms that have a default-deny application control environment, or be prepared for higher costs and more potential for infections.
  • If your enterprise is involved with OT such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, process control, telemetering, sensors or similar OT, immediately try for IT/OT alignment, convergence and integration to develop plans for security oversight.
  • End-user organizations should anticipate continued investments in procedures and solutions focused on managing security risks in external social media. However, solutions in this space are immature, and organizations should expect regular changes in feature sets and vendors.

My Evolving Security Philosophy

From the very start of considering a move from IBM Security Systems to Bit9, I gave a lot of thought to my security philosophy.  I really do believe strongly in IBM’s security portfolio, and I wanted to make sure moving to Bit9 didn’t undercut my security philosophy.  Working for IBM taught me a lot about holistic security and how good security products are usable no matter if you have basic security maturity, or advanced.  I generally focused on the network side of security, mainly in SIEM and NIPS.  I’ve shied away from endpoint security (for the exception of dabbling in forensics and TEM), because it’s such a headache. Virus scan software is a joke, letting just about everything modern in.  Case in point with the recent attacks at the New York Times:

Over the course of three months, attackers installed 45 pieces of custom malware. The Times — which uses antivirus products made by Symantec — found only one instance in which Symantec identified an attacker’s software as malicious and quarantined it, according to Mandiant.

I see this all the time.  That’s why products like QRadar and IBM Security NIDS are so popular.  You have to fall back to the network, if can’t get control of the endpoint.  Why attack the endpoint?  It’s seems to be the easiest and most successful.  There’s typically three categories of attacks:

  1. Remote attacks launched from the internet (DoS, SQL Injection, etc.)
  2. Insider threats, and
  3. Infect an endpoint, then launch attack from within (phishing, drive-by downloads)

Network based protection is very useful at blocking and/or detecting all three of these attacks categories, but that leaves you with a perimeter based security protection.  With perimeter based security, one tries to tackle the channels of infections like email and web browsing.  There are tons of solutions that help with this, but nothing helps as soon as that endpoint walks out the door.  Network security should be used to protect infrastructure, not endpoints.

So what can be done to protect the endpoint?  IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager does a lot to manage all the small stuff like patch management, software delivery, compliance, and virus scanning.  I say small stuff, not to dismiss its importance, but they are processes that should be in place already.  Having TEM take care of it all is just easier.

When I was at IBM and a customer was worried about the Insider Threat, we would use either TSIEM or QRadar to pull in system and audit logs.  What we usually found near pure chaos, since it’s very hard to figure out what is what within system logs.  The best approach I have found is using white list policies.  We would build profiles of acceptable behavior in an environment, filter it out, then analyze the rest.  It was a great approach and bled over into some of my other SIEM and NIPS scenarios.

The reason I bring this up is that one of the reasons I like Bit9’s software is that it employs a similar white list approach, but looks to be MUCH easier than the rat’s nest that is system and audit logs.

Let me summarize:

  • Network security is best when focused on protecting infrastructure like hosted applications and databases.  It loses effectiveness when trying to secure the endpoint.
  • As for hosted applications, security vulnerability testing and security development should be a closed loop.
  • Insider threats can only be managed if you are doing system and audit log analysis.  It’s a costly investment, but worth it to certain business sectors like banking and military.
  • Endpoint protection must include basic measures including patch management, lifecycle management, and basic written security policy.
  • I believe SIEM is critical to tie it all together and should be the single pane of glass.
  • Maturity in other security processes like identity management, access management, policy, compliance, encryption, and asset management help all your other security investments.
  • Overall security policy governance has to be tailored to the size and type of organization.

As I write this out, I see that going after endpoint security with Bit9 fits for me.  I am looking forward to learning more about its capabilities and how our customers would like to use it.